Grumpy Old Man is a new column that Cass will be breaking out from time to time to…well, complain about things. It should not in any way be mistaken with the regular content Cass provides when he…well, complains about things.
But hey…the man has roots to go back to once in a while.)
I didn’t go to the Journey Into Nyx Prerelease this past weekend. What’s worse, I didn’t particularly care that I missed it. I checked Twitter all of once all weekend, and just went on with my business – cleaning the house and riding bikes with my son and grocery shopping and sleeping in my armchair in front of the television.
To preface why, it’s important to understand just how badly I suck at Sealed events. I may not be particularly better or worse than the average Magic player, but I let myself get worse because I tilt. I tilt because Sealed is inherently more about luck than your average game of constructed Magic. Instead of fighting the Shuffle gods, you also have to fight with the I Hope I Built This Right gods (my control for the most part, but I hate being saddled with trying to polish a turd) and the Holy Hell That Kid Opened Five On-Color Bombs And All The Relevant Supporting Removal gods (not at all under my control.)
So these other things happen, and I tilt, and lose games I shouldn’t. Or at least I think I shouldn’t. Which makes me tilt worse. I play EDH to counter-act these effects, and it works wonders. Which should be a lesson to me, but whatever.
Now, this used to be mitigated by the joyous wonder of the “Regional Prerelease”, which just used to be “The Prerelease” because any tournament organizer could run one with enough support for all-day gaming for everyone who showed up. Back in the day, we would jump in the car at the crack of dawn on the Saturday of Prerelease Weekend, drive a few hours to the Boston or Hartford area, and sign up for the first flight of the day. Some of us might go deep and play for packs; the rest of us would scrub out and sign up for another flight immediately. Those of us who did well would play for packs, while the rest of us usually got lunch and drinks either at the hotel bar, or a nearby restaurant.
Then, we’d go back in and draft. Or sign up for yet another flight.
All in all, Prereleases used to be events that would start with me leaving the house at 4AM, and end with me crawling back into the house at roughly 4AM, a hundred or so lighter in the pocket, but with a box-plus of the new product. The list of cards for the EDH decks would be mostly crossed off, and there would be a nice pile of valuable-but-unwanted stuff to sell to offset the entrance fees.
Occasionally, the stars would even align, and we would all get a hotel room on the premises (or close by) Saturday night. We would get dinner, some drinks, some more drinks, jump in the pool, play poker, and drink some more. Then, Sunday morning would roll around, and we’d go play more flights and drafts. (Wives and girlfriends tended to make this less of an occurrence once they started to become a thing, so maybe this is about them too. But don’t tell them I said it…)
Good times were had by all. Sometimes, too good. There was the time Chad and I sat in lawn chairs on our patio, half in the bag, and watched Mr. P decide the path around the pool wasn’t good enough, so he bushwhacked his own way through the fake foliage in the planters (only to find the wrong end of a 6-foot drop shortly after…) And there was the time Tyler forgot which room was which and curled up to sleep outside of the front lobby entrance in a pile of mulch. Hell – I was introduced to EDH as a format at one of these things.
This was all wonderful. And then, things took a turn for the worse.
Wizards of the Coast killed off “The Prerelease.” Now, there were local store prereleases, which had the misfortune of having one flight available all day, and no drafts. These were designed to give “The Prerelease Experience” to a wider audience by making it possible to play in one locally by anyone. (By this, I mean whoever got lucky enough to pre-buy one of thirty-two slots.) This had the distinct effect of giving no-one “The Prerelease Experience” as we knew it.
So we soldiered on, doing largely the same thing we used to do. We occasionally got a hotel, but more likely got up at the crack of dawn, drove to Boston or Hartford, and played in flights and drafts for most of the day.
Wizards decided somewhere in here that this experience was simply too much fun, so they took away drafts from the Prereleases. This was the beginning of the end for me. As I said above, I’m terrible at Sealed Magic. Fortunately, drafts are totally different. In a draft, I can mitigate the randomness of Sealed by taking the direction of the direction of the deck into my hands. Or, you know, savagely rare-drafting the new set. Either way is usually a win. But this is no longer a thing suddenly, so multiple sealed flights it is.
Until that too is deemed too much fun and WotC kills off the Regional Prerelease. You see, enough people weren’t being turned away from the over-filled local store events because people were escaping to the regional events to play to their heart’s content, and that simply wouldn’t do, so Wizards stepped in again to “adjust” the Prerelease experience by only doing them in local stores, and limiting them to single flights each day.
Fortunately, the flights were expanded to allow for more people to join, meaning that in their eyes, WotC mitigated the over-filled attendance problem by letting more people in the doors locally. This had exactly zero effect on the fact that I still couldn’t open and play more than one god-damn pool a day. This was a problem for so many reasons, I can’t seem to keep them all in my head, but I can single out the return of the Random gods above, and the wives and girlfriends effect too. Now, cutting off day two of a Prerelease weekend meant I would play in exactly one flight. Period.
This is not my beautiful Prerelease.
The other joy is that the increase in prize support for these events (that I only have one god-damn shot at making now) means the local shark players and cheaty-faces come out in droves. Now, my fun, enjoyable Prerelease experience is hampered by some douchebag local GP grinder wanna-be who rules-lawyers me to the point that I need to treat a bottom-rung REL event like I’m playing Kai Budde in the finals at Worlds. If he’s not taking a giant dump on the fun factor of the event, the three kids who all walked in to the first event holding event boxes from the midnight prerelease down the street and all magically opened pools that were so good they could be Constructed, yet “lost their sideboards somewhere in their bags or car or something” when asked for a deck check to verify their pools will surely be able to take the rest of the wind out of my sails.
Thanks, Wizards. This is awesome. No really.
So that gets me back to this weekend. I slept in. I cooked eggs with a nice light cream, Habanero cheese and salsa to go with a wonder cup of piping-hot French Vanilla coffee (two creams, one sugar.) I played with my son’s train set. (At age three, he seems to love causing catastrophic derailments.) My infant daughter smiled at me, and then spit up on my sweatshirt. I went to Home Depot to browse. I watched part of Forrest Gump.
The list goes on. Somewhere in there, I opened an internet browser, threw all of the cards from Journey Into Nyx that I wanted for my EDH decks into a StarCityGames shopping cart, clicked the “Place Order” button, and removed any need and/or desire to crack a single pack of this set ever again.
I could be mistaken, but this probably isn’t “The Prerelease Experience” Wizards of the Coast has in mind. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s a damn sight better than the one they provide me with these days.